Every now and then a great textbook comes along that just can’t be beat. Such is the case with JAZZ PEDAGOGY, The Jazz Educator’s Handbook and Resource Guide.
Written in 2002 by Dick Dunscomb and Dr. Willie Hill, this book continues to be the benchmark “go to” book for newbie teachers and veterans alike. Granted, some of the references to technology and specific big band arrangements are a bit outdated, the rest of the book is chock full of applicable material from advocacy to the nuts and bolts of rehearsing a band.
A weakness that all jazz educators will confess to is a propensity to “teach to what you know”. Nowhere is this more apparent than when dealing with rhythm sections in a big band. The practical background of many jazz educators is a wind instrument and the rhythm section becomes the elephant in the room that is almost an afterthought. Directors rehearse important things like intonation and rhythm but end up ignoring the ALL important jazz concepts like form, time and feel. Those aspects of jazz all trickle down from the rhythm section and effect the performance of all members of the ensemble.
Anyway… off of my soapbox now! JAZZ PEDAGOGY is the resource I go to at the start of every school year to review what to do with my rhythm section to get them up to speed in a hurry. The students appreciate it too! Once they hear what happens when you use the correct voicing or play the correct style, they’ll begin to understand their responsibility and place in the ensemble.
The Jazz Guy